China: StarTimes Group establishes links with Latin America

As part of the 2019 China - South America Film & TV Conference held recently by the Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau in several Latin American countries, Prensario interviewed Sun Mulin, Director of Public Affairs at Startimes Group, major Chinese group with presence in 37 countries in the African SubSaharian region and now establishing links with Latin America.

Pang Xinxin, Chairman of StarTimes Group, has asserted: ‘Founded in 1988, StarTimes Group is a Chinese multinational media company headquartered in Beijing. Since 2008, when StarTimes started operation in African market, the company has been sparing no effort to realize its ambitious mission: "To ensure that every African family can access, afford, watch and share the beauty of digital TV"’.

‘Today, as the leading digital-TV operator in Africa, StarTimes is serving nearly 25 million users and covering whole of the continent's population with a massive distribution network’.

‘Our business consists of three parts’, explains Sun Mulin, ‘on the one hand, we are experts in system integration and broadcasting; on the other hand, we are acting in Africa as pay television operator since 2008; last but not least, we are a provider of audiovisual content with 43 owned channels that produce their content by themselves; the output amounts to more than 30,000 hours of programming per year’.

‘For the African audiences we are producing and purchasing TV series and movies, that we dub to the African languages. So, now we are searching for some good content from Latin America, especially TV series, and we would like to introduce Argentina content, especially fiction, to the African people. We believe this will not only promote cultural exchange but is a win-win situation’.

‘We are looking for long-running fiction series of more than 100 episodes each. We operate four ‘novela’ channels, two in English and two in French, and Africa TV in local languages. TV series from Latin America is the most popular genre, it is the kind of ‘novela’ that is welcome by African audiences, and the audience can follow them for relative long time period, which helps to keep subscribers’.

‘There is a cultural coincidence between the African and the Latin American audiences, both people share the same preferences, such as peace, love and family values. We have found that the appearance of Latin American actors and actresses is liked by the audiences, and this moves us to further continue this relationship’.

‘For the moment we will rather purchase the content. Two ways exist, depending on the negotiation: the license or the copyright. Perhaps in the future we will be looking for some opportunity to coproduce, but it will take some time. I have been impressed by Argentina’s production ability, having met the INCAA and local production companies. Argentina has reached a splendid culture, and a very strong ability for content products. This matches our needs, and we look to forward cooperation’.